20 years ago, Click Through Rate was on all of the marketer’s lips. It used to be an important metric for marketers who were using paid advertising to drive traffic to their websites and increase profits. Nowadays, companies have embraced another trend: the conversion rate optimization. The paradigm has changed and the essential metric used by marketers to measure performance is Conversion Rate.

Click Through Rate - changing the paradigm


Even though Click Through Rate(CTR) has fallen beyond the marketer’s attention, it plays an important role in measuring on-site engagement and behavior. In the conversion rate optimization mix, it can show at which design and copy elements the users respond accordingly to the marketer’s interest. If integrated with the conversion funnel measurement process, CTR can also help with explaining conversion rate for each stage.

The uses of CTR in the Conversion Funnel

  1. it reveals behavioral habits
  2. it helps with understanding Conversion Rate across the funnel’s stages
  3. it measures engagement (number of clicks)

To measure success within the conversion funnel, you need to understand the efficiency of collective marketing activities. A metric alone can never fully enclose the broad variety of the marketer’s goals. Monitoring only the conversion rate can lead to misunderstandings of the website’s performance. Combining CTR with CR in the funnel provides with valuable information about reasons, not only numbers.

Reasons drive users on the website to take actions. The website’s most visible and useful element is the Call To action.

The roles of Call to Action – The Consumers Perspective

  1. it tells people what to expect next. It also answers to the questions:“Where should I click to access this information/offer ?”  You can get better CTR with a visually appealing button. In this case, focus on design and test it with an A/B testing software.
  2. it answers to the question “What’s in it for me if I click this button?”.  The button’s copy plays a vital role. Once again, test the copy efficiency with A/B testing.

The Role of Call to Action for Marketers

  1. it gets users from a funnel stage to another
  2. it reveals which design and copy elements appeal the most to users
  3. it helps with a better understanding of what the target expects from the website’s design, offers, copy, etc.
  4. it reveals insights for the conversion rate optimization process (especially for A/B testing)

The website’s Call to Action efficiency is measured across the various stages of the conversion funnel. If conversion rate reveals the number of users who have completed a task on the landing page (subscribed, downloaded a digital product, filled out a form, etc), CTR reveals the number of clicks on specific website’s elements.

Conversion Rate vs. Click Through Rate

When you analyze conversion rate for Call to Actions, in fact, you measure conversion rate for the funnel’s stage. For example, if you want users to complete a form to download a free offer, you are interested to see how many visitors became subscribers as the result of your inbound marketing efforts. Therefore, by analyzing conversion rate alone you cannot identify what is driving to more conversions: the Call to Action or the landing page’s content.

For a better understanding about how conversion rate and click through rate work combined, let me explain it with a real world case study.

How does Click Through Rate fit in the Conversion Funnel – Case Study

The Top of the Funnel of any e-commerce website contains strangers attracted through various tactics – SEO, Paid Advertising, Social Media, etc. They become visitors as soon as they land on one of the website’s pages and start taking actions on it. From this moment on, we need to do everything we can to retain the visitor on the website and, eventually, get their email address to transform them into subscribers.

Click Through Rate - Funnel

In our attempt to optimize the conversion rate for one of our clients, we looked into Google Analytics to figure conversion paths. The procedure is simple and it involves analyzing the website’s traffic by dividing it into “Searchers” vs. “Non-searchers” (as we named the two segments).

Click Through Rate - Data analysis

By comparing their conversion rate, we observed that visitors who use the site search convert at least 10 times higher than those who do not use it (unfortunately we cannot provide the conversion rate for the two segments). In order to validate this hypothesis, we created a plan to run two separate, consecutive A/B tests: the first one to validate a design change in the search bar and the other one to validate if the searchers convert better than the non-searchers.

Hypothesis: Changing the design of the search bar will increase the number of searches by 10 %.

Traffic segments included in the test: All the website’s visitors

Goal measured in the test: Number of searches – pageview goal, defined as the number of users (read Clicks on the CTA or CTA Click Through Rate) who have used the search bar in their attempt to find specific products for their needs.

Here is the control page included in the test:

Click through rate - version A

And its challenger:

Click through rate - Version B

As you observe, we added a green CTA button to encourage users to use the search bar.

The A/B test results


The number of searches on version B increased by 15% along with the conversion rate (difference between the Original Page CR and the Variation’s CR is 3% ). Be warned: the purpose of this A/B test was to test the impact on the Number of Searches to validate a specific type of behavior. We decided to approach this optimization attempt in this manner because our client had other active experiments on the website, and we didn’t want to affect the accuracy of the A/B test. Therefore, we have in plan to test the impact of different versions of site search on the website’s conversion rate in the future.

Choosing what metrics to measure is a matter of prioritization based on your unique objectives. Depending on your goals, you may want to increase conversion rate or to prepare the field for new CRO experiments on the websites, as we did in our example The website’s visitors follow specific patterns to conversion. All you need to do is identify behavior patterns and validate them with A/B testing the patterns.


– Measuring CTR is not useful when conversion is more important than clicks in your campaigns.

– Measuring CTR is useful to validate behavior patters and measure engagement.

Website optimization